Monday, November 10, 2008

Lentil Soup and Sourdough

Dreary and windy with no sunshine in sight, the recent Kansas weather is perfect for steamy bowls of soup and warm bread. I made a coccodrillo bread recently that was so delicious I had none left to savor with my soup. Then I thought, Ooooh, sourdough! I'll make that.

Unfortunately, sourdough takes longer than I remembered, since my Denver loaves used a starter mix I'd coddled in the refrigerator for months. Now that we'd moved, I'd have to start from scratch. So, no sourdough for me, today anyway. The soup was still delicious, and, in a few days, I'll have a loaf of bread to enjoy too. What I really like about lentil soup is that, like chili, it's even better in a few days.

Lentil Soup with Carrots & Tomatoes
Makes 8 hearty servings

1 T olive or vegetable oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cups lentils (your choice of brown or French), rinsed and drained
1 cup orange lentils (dal lentils), rinsed and drained
28 oz can peeled tomatoes
4 cups vegetable broth
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
2 bay leaves
1 dried hot pepper, optional
salt & pepper to taste
sour cream to serve, optional

Heat oil in a heavy saucepan on medium-high until it's hot. Add onions and carrots, stirring often, until lightly browned. Add the lentils, tomatoes, broth and all the herbs. Stir together gently, and turn the heat up to high. When the soup boils, stir again, then turn heat down and let simmer for 30 minutes. The lentils and carrots should be tender.

This is what the soup looks like before pureeing.

Discard the bay leaves and pepper. Scoop 1/3 of the soup into a blender or food processer and puree until smooth. Add back into the pan and mix together. This just gives it an even texture throughout, and if you like you can blend the entire pot. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed — sometimes the broth is salty enough. Serve steaming hot with a small dollop of sour cream and a sprinkle of pepper.

This is what my starter looks like after four days — bubbly. Begin your sourdough starter now, and I'll post the remainder of the recipe in a few days when we're all ready to go. Make sure you have 8 more cups of flour on hand to complete the loaves.

Sourdough Starter

2 cups milk (use 2% or whole)
2 cups flour

Mix together, then cover with saran wrap. Let sit at room temperature on your countertop for four days, stirring once daily. It should develop a heady sour smell, but not turn pink or smell rancid. Occasionally, starter will turn grey or brown, which is normal.

After the fourth day, scoop 1 cup of the starter into a separate bowl and refrigerate the rest. The refrigerated portion is your starter and all future loaves will come from this, making it a much faster process.

To the cup of starter in your bowl, add:

2 cups water
2 cups flour

Let this sit overnight, then scoop one cup of the mixture back into your refrigerated starter. Wait for chapter two. . . .

1 comment:

Erik said...

The soup looks really good! I wish I could make the sourdough, too, but alas I tolerance for gluten, and I don't think any other flour works as well.


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